It finally hit us when the lock clicked. I jiggled the handle same as always to make sure that the door was locked. A nervous tick well honed after 6 years of closing the same door. Except it didn’t matter. All that I was protecting was dust, leftover roach carcasses, and a dissembled smoke detector. It was official. We were no longer in the purgatory of being people in the process of moving. We had moved, it was over. We didn’t live in Bay Ridge anymore.
This may come as a shock but I’ve never designed a kitchen before. I’ve heard of “the kitchen triangle” and I figured out on my own that it’s stupid to have a stove placed next to the fridge (scorched fridge, lost security deposit) but that’s about the extent of my knowledge. I knew that I didn’t want to hire a designer because A) I’m cheap and and B) a micromanager, but I also knew that I needed guidance. Mainly because I had no idea what I was doing. That’s where IKEA Individual Kitchen Planning came in. The kitchen staff at the Brooklyn IKEA (excellent staff BTW) told us about in-home IKEA Individual Kitchen Planning and recommended it to us as a safety net to ensure that what we were dreaming up would work in reality. It’s essentially a planning service that has a consultant come to your home to measure and design a kitchen (or review what you designed) for up to 4 hours. The best part, the service is $200 and after you buy the kitchen from IKEA you get the $200 back on an IKEA gift card. In my world that’s the same as cash. So $200 gets you someone to do your measurements, give you a workable layout, and ensure that you won’t set your cabinets on fire. Yes please.
It’s weird to tear down something that you just bought. We knew from the start that the kitchen had to go- but that didn’t mean that we weren’t also kind of sad about it. Countless meals had been prepared here with its fake brick backsplash, 42 inch sink, and 20 inches of counter space. The kitchen had survived many families and ultimately we were going to be the ones to put it out of its misery. We had bought the Old Yeller of kitchens. Best to make quick work of it. The week after buying the place we paid our super $500 to demo the whole thing to give us a clean slate for our kitchen renovation. No looking back. Except a little.
These were 3 hardest details to let go of.
We weren’t planning on doing a kitchen renovation. We always thought that we’d buy something that was livable but not exactly our style, forget that we actually had power to change it, and then live with it forever. While I care about design and decor quite a bit I’m also an inherently cheap and practical person. Ripping out a functioning kitchen wasn’t going to happen. I always figured I’d be making minor changes to make the kitchen more “us” (what does that even mean?). Maybe adding a backsplash? Switching out appliances? Adding floating shelves? Who knows. All I knew was that I was entirely prepared to settle. Never did I think I’d have a blank canvas to work with. That’s a whole new ball game and a lot more choices.
Choice paralysis? Get thee to Pinterest. I found myself drawn to a few specific styles.
The people that lived in this apartment before us were Jewish. We’ve figured this out as we found scattered artifacts of their lives during our renovation process. Mezuzahs adorning the door frames and photos of children wearing yarmulkes left behind in the kitchen cupboards. I don’t know anything about those people- but I assume they made food in the kitchen, watched TV in the living room, and slept in the bedroom. I don’t know what their kids hated eating, or what they did to celebrate- but I know that they were people, that they lived here before me, and that they wanted to feel safe at home. It seems so simple. But it feels very far away from the here and now.